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Ambient and smartphone sensor assisted ADL recognition in multi-inhabitant smart environments

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Activity recognition in smart environments is an evolving research problem due to the advancement and proliferation of sensing, monitoring and actuation technologies to make it possible for large scale and real deployment. While activities in smart home are interleaved, complex and volatile; the number of inhabitants in the environment is also dynamic. A key challenge in designing robust smart home activity recognition approaches is to exploit the users’ spatiotemporal behavior and location, focus on the availability of multitude of devices capable of providing different dimensions of information and fulfill the underpinning needs for scaling the system beyond a single user or a home environment. In this paper, we propose a hybrid approach for recognizing complex activities of daily living (ADL), that lie in between the two extremes of intensive use of body-worn sensors and the use of ambient sensors. Our approach harnesses the power of simple ambient sensors (e.g., motion sensors) to provide additional ‘hidden’ context (e.g., room-level location) of an individual, and then combines this context with smartphone-based sensing of micro-level postural/locomotive states. The major novelty is our focus on multi-inhabitant environments, where we show how the use of spatiotemporal constraints along with multitude of data sources can be used to significantly improve the accuracy and computational overhead of traditional activity recognition based approaches such as coupled-hidden Markov models. Experimental results on two separate smart home datasets demonstrate that this approach improves the accuracy of complex ADL classification by over 30 %, compared to pure smartphone-based solutions.

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  1. We interchangeably use Context as a state s in our HMM model. For brevity we denote \(Context^i(t)=s_t\) and \(Context^j(t) = s_t^{'}\) in equations.


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The work of Nirmalya Roy is partially supported by the National Science Foundation Award \(\#1344990\) and Constellation \(E^2\): Energy to Educate Grant. The work of Archan Misra is partially supported by the Singapore Ministry of Education Academic Research Fund Tier 2 under research Grant MOE2011-T2-1-001. The work of Diane Cook is partially supported by NSF Grants 1064628, 0852172, CNS-1255965, and NIH Grant R01EB009675.

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Roy, N., Misra, A. & Cook, D. Ambient and smartphone sensor assisted ADL recognition in multi-inhabitant smart environments. J Ambient Intell Human Comput 7, 1–19 (2016).

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